How should participation in a collaborative learning community be assessed? How do the varying levels of skill and knowledge students bring to a course affect the instructor’s “fair and equitable assessment” of learning?
Teachers and instructional designers have to determine how to grade collaborative learning assignments in an online format. Palloff and Pratt (2007) suggested that students should get graded by their peers in regards to their commitment, by their instructor, and on the overall content. The rubrics for grading those assignments should allow some weight The instructor should not assign grades based solely on the final product. Students have to keep each other accountable by allowing them to tell on each other. This prevents one student from doing all the work to get the mystical A while the other student becomes a slacker, knowing that the partner has everything under control. Palloff and Pratt (2007) cautioned that the assignments have to be truly collaborative in nature. Do not assign assignments that can be accomplished by one person. “Students learn best when teachers present them with tasks that they can’t complete when they are working alone” (Raudenbush, n.d.).
If a student does not want to network or collaborate in a learning community for an online course, what should the other members of the learning community do? What role should the instructor play? What impact would this have on his or her assessment plan?
For students who are unable to participate with their group because of schedule conflicts or emergencies, that person has to immediately contact the rest of the group and instructor to make them aware of the situation. This should be noted in the guidelines/rules of what to do in situations like these. For situations where the student is not motivated to participate with the group, the group will eventually take out points on their assessment of that individual. The instructor has the responsibility to follow up with students who are not carrying their weight in a group project (Palloff & Pratt, 2007). The group members need to encourage the person who is not participating by trying to connect with them (e.g. phone call, email, text, Facebook message). If that does not work, the group needs to let the professor know that the person is not responding nor contributing. This leaves room for the professor to adjust the scope of the final product to reflect the abilities of the students who are able to contribute.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Raudenbush, D. (n.d.). The effects of cooperative learning on student learning and assessment. Retrieved from http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/effects-cooperative-learning-student-learning-assessment-4239.html
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